Onyx Stones and Other Gem Stones [Republished]

I was so struck this morning by the deeper meanings of the Words in Luke 6:38 (HCSB):

Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

It so fit with Bettie’s and her daughter’s testimony that so touched my heart again this morning, and so I longed to share it with you all again too. You see, it turns out that what is “measured” to us in return for all we have given (which includes our entrusting of our own and other souls into God’s hands) is poured into our bosom (where the breastplate of righteousness sits). It is a Word that is synonymous with intimacy. And that Word measured is interestingly also symbolic for those who have come out of the Great Tribulation.

Interestingly the Word that means lap and bosom and chest pocket used for keeping and carrying things, is also the Word used for the bay Paul was shipwrecked in – the bay, where the islanders came to faith, as they watched Christ’s power be revealed in their midst in and through the weakness and dependence of Paul upon his God. The apostle Paul (once a Jewish leader, who had ordered the killing of Christians, but whose eyes had been opened by Jesus on the road to Damascus), had followed the Holy Spirit’s unusual promptings.

These promptings led to his persecution, his imprisonment and his shipping off to Rome – with God’s very much planned interruption of a shipwreck, bringing the love of Jesus to these islanders. As Paul joined Jesus in His suffering (through persecution, imprisonment and shipwreck), Jesus poured out His love and mercy to all those Paul met on his unusual journey. Beautifully He worked to redeem Paul’s past, fulfilling Stephen’s prayers, who as he was being stoned to death (on Paul’s command) and the heavens opened to him, had cried out for God to forgive Paul.

Do you find yourself or are you watching your loved ones in a place of persecution, imprisonment or shipwreck? What this looks like is different for each one of us. Be encouraged with me today, by Bettie’s, her daughter’s, Paul’s and Stephen’s testimonies. No, not one drop of suffering in this world is ever wasted in God’s bountiful, merciful, heavenly giving back.

Welcome to Chapter 1 of Part 7 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie (with the help of her daughter Becky) is introducing us to the free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord:
9 onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece. Exodus 35:5,9

-Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 16 It is to be square—a span[a] long and a span wide—and folded double. 17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 18 the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 19 the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; 20 the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper.[b] Mount them in gold filigree settings. 21 There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes. Exodus 28:15-21

 “In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the Lord. Exodus 28:29 (NLT)

-“About Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
    and you, Issachar, in your tents.
They will summon peoples to the mountain
    and there offer the sacrifices of the righteous;
they will feast on the abundance of the seas,
    on the treasures hidden in the sand. Deuteronomy 33:18-19 NIV

For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations. Isaiah 61:11 NIV

The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. Zechariah 9:16

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.  Revelation 2:17 

On a day, years ago, of heavy prayers for my young adult children, especially for my daughter who was facing a deep heartache,  I heard a song being sung as I read this passage:

Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. Isaiah 54:11

Strangely, tho, the tune only repeated the first phrase again and again, “Oh afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted …” I felt such a deep comfort, knowing that God saw my daughter’s heartache. But I so badly wanted to sing the promise portion of the verse too. As I waited, I heard a “not yet,” whispered to my heart. How could it be that God would not allow me to sing aloud His promise? 

Sometimes His presence IS the promise.

Move forward another 5 years, and my daughter’s heartache had been eased with a love deeper than she had ever known. But after another deeper heartache, when she suffered a miscarriage, her soul was plunged into a time of anxiety and depression that seemed to speak of no way out. 

And I heard another Scripture being sung aloud as my prayers felt too heavy to bear. As the windchimes on my porch played the tune, I realized it was an answer to the phrase I had heard so long ago: 

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

Oh, afflicted city, 
Lashed by storms
And not comforted,

Faint not, 
Faint not,
You will reap soon,
If you faint not

Reap a harvest
Of well doing,
Faint not
Faint not.

And I wept at the promise of reaping that the Lord was singing. I longed once again for the promise of the rebuilt foundations set with precious stones, but the whisper remained, “not yet.”

Sometimes His presence of endurance is enough. 

Move forward another 5 years after peace in the Presence had come, another miscarriage brought waves of grief to our daughter and family.  Names were spoken over each little life given to Heaven: Faith and Eden were nestled in the arms of Jesus. 

But my daughter continued to ache, even as compassion grew in her heart for so many others longing for Heaven. The people of Israel, longing for a Saviour but blinded to see Yeshua before them, filled her daily prayers. 

Sometimes, in the breaking of bread, as we surrender what has been given to us back into God’s hands, the Promise is multiplied to feed not just us, but many more.

And then one day my daughter was given a dream of rebuilding with precious stones. Never knowing how I had longed for the promise to be sung over her, she heard her Savior calling her to join Him as He called the names of all of His lost sheep.

In her dream He was pulling stone tablets out of a stream, with names written on them, as He placed precious jewels around the names.When she awoke, this Scripture was given to her:

I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. Isaiah 54:11

I wept when she told me her dream. And I sang to her the song that God had begun in my heart all those years before.

Sometimes the promise of God is meant to blossom and grow to be shared.

Move forward another few months, and my daughter faced yet another miscarriage, while she was traveling out West. But this time God gave her a gift to hold onto, as she waded in the mountain streams of South Dakota…surprisingly, the very place that had been in her dream!

As they stopped to buy a memento of their trip, there on the counter lay earrings of native jade, akin to the lapis lazuli in her verse.

It was akin to a ring my husband had bought me as we traveled out West when I was pregnant–with the daughter now covered in my prayers.

And it is akin to the native New Zealand greenstone worn by Anna’s husband in the Netherlands – a gift given to him by Anna. And to the pounamu necklace worn by Anna’s elderly neighbor in her dying days, which was first given to Anna’s dying Mum, then worn by Anna when her Mum went to heaven and then given to her neighbor in obedience to God’s sweet prompting.

Sometimes the jewels of His promise are returned into our hands as a new gift to be worn close to our heart, joining us – the Body of Christ- together, the world over. Gifts that remind us daily to join Jesus in prayer, calling out to His children yet to be awakened:

He sees
He hears
He speaks
He sings

And His Word is that sure foundation you are seeking. 

Do you see how Jesus awakens us through loss and heartache to heaven’s breath and blooming? The very gift prophecied by baby Eden, whose name expresses the beginning of life–new life. Our Jesus clothes us in His breastplate of righteousness, giving us the honor of joining Him in His intercession as royal priests.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

There, carrying His heart for His Body, we are given the gift of joining Him in declaring His judgment of mercy over all of God’s children – the jewels of His Crown – that are akin to the jewels once sewn into the fabric of the breastplate, worn by the High Priest in the old temple.

Will you join me in prayer as Anna and I prepare to share our free will offerings with you for this chapter in the coming days?

Dear Holy Father, 

we bow before the beauty of Your Glory. Your beauty is like the sun that sparkles as a jewel in our skies! We cannot ever find words to express the greatness that is found in You.

And, Lord, we are so humbled that You would call each of us so precious to You, that You see us even now as sparkling jewels in Your hand, and someday we will sparkle in Your land like jewels in a crown!

We surrender our hearts to You here, as we wait for You to bring us victorious into Your land. We hold onto Your hand as the heartaches seek to overwhelm us. Show us again and again that Your presence is enough to keep us. Help us to lean upon Your endurance, knowing that You are reaping that harvest even now.

We hear your song being sung over Your bride, and we join You as You intercede for Your people. We lift our prayers to join Your building, Your naming of each precious jewel, as we eagerly look forward to that time when we will walk with You and see those foundations of precious stones that You have built, joining our souls together in You.

Oh how we long for that day of glorious redemption when You call all of Your children, Jewish and Gentile alike, to share in Your glorious inheritance, woven together as one.

In the name of Your son Jesus we pray. 


Oh afflicted city

Lashed by storms

And not comforted,

Oh afflicted city

Lashed by storms

And not comforted.

Faint not,

Faint not,

You will reap soon

If you faint not

Reap a harvest

Of well doing

Faint not

Faint not

He sees

He hears

He speaks

He sings

And His Word is that sure foundation.

Open Hands and Hearts . . . in Jesus

Such deep deep mercy Christ has for us. I was just so sunk in that mirey clay today, when Jesus said to me: read John 6. I cried – verses 35-40 are my life verses – and again His Promise never to let me go (MSG version), never to cast me out (most other versions) and never to lose me so reassured my heart, but somehow what spoke so deeply to my heart today was verse 21 (HCSB) – that:

at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading

I think the disciples were tired of waiting. It was late and getting dark, and so they headed to Capernaum – without Jesus. I wonder if they felt forsaken by Jesus, who had gone off alone (to get away from those who wished to crown him King and most likely to seek His Father’s face in prayer). I wonder if that’s also why they left without Him.

Perhaps their hearts were hardened in pain and distrust at waiting and Jesus not showing up “in time” (according to their human fathoming). But just look at what GRACE meets them in their weakness – even as they have gone on ahead without their Savior in their own strength and understanding, believing they had to now fend for themselves – a storm that stops them, a Savior who walks toward them on the churning sea (of accusations) and who turns that churning sea of wrath into a sea of mercy:

at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading

So, it’s not that they were headed the wrong direction, it’s that they were going about it the wrong way (method). Their human understanding told them:

– there is just NO more time to rest (hey, it’s kinda dark, you know, shouldn’t we be heading home by now, Jesus? Where are YOU?!)

– I guess now we have to travel on alone, in our own strength now, because Jesus is not back yet.

Their human thinking – most likely fed by their human and fleshly weaknesses of pride, unbelief, weariness, distrust and impatience – meant they were now traveling in their own strength, weary and discouraged, without their beloved Jesus at their side. So, what does Jesus do to show them who their Father is and what He is like? Does He let them carry on weary and discouraged in their own strength and without Him? Or does He set about to punish them for their weakness and sinful striving?

No! He – who controls the wind, let’s the sea begin to churn. He raises up a barrier – which incidentally is an alternate meaning of the Word “sufficient” from God’s Word to Paul, when he asked God to remove the thorn of Satan in his side. God refused to, saying to Paul: “my grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So what if that churning sea was in fact God’s way of making sure the disciples wouldn’t get to shore alone, discouraged and weary – but with Him, encouraged and empowered by Him.

He takes away their transgression (of abandoning Him and going it alone), wiping away their fear of punishment, by meeting them in mercy. He walks toward them, stills their fear, in so doing leads them to invite Him into the boat with them. And if that wasn’t enough, He completes the journey for them (no more weary striving, thank You, Jesus!). In all of this I hear Him say to us today:

I know your hearts. I know you love me. I know just how weary and discouraged and afraid you are. And I want you to know I am not upset, disappointed in you or angry at you but FULL of compassion for you- because I have felt and feel everything you do too and more – and yet sinned not. I did what you never could – I rested in My Papa, in His timing and in His will – for you. So that now, through the Cross and My Spirit breath in you, you might walk in Me – in the Way, the Truth and the Life – as I reveal My all-sufficient grace for you and all.

Yes, as my brother Peter said: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.

And there is my verse I prayed this morning – from a place of weariness, discouragement and pride. And look what my Jesus did – He lifted up the warm bread of His Word (Himself) for me in thanks to His Father, broke His Body on that Cross for me to feed Himself to me – filling my heart with the truth, the life and my good and perfect way to walk.

Jesus has done it for us – gone to His Papa, where He now intercedes before His Father – our Father – on our behalf for ever more. He now meets us in every place our hearts are troubled and become hardened in sin, fear and pain.

I could cry because in my discouragement today Jesus reminded me of my dream from last night. It left me so in awe. I suddenly saw how my very wrestling is in fact Christ’s intercession. My heart aches for my loved ones to know Him, and I saw this unfolding in the dream, and yet now I see that Christ’s heart in me aches not just for my loved ones to know Him, but for me to know Him too – in and through all the intercession.

In my own wrestling with unbelief, I am finding Jesus over and over standing up for me to declare His faith for me. Whenever I have wanted to throw in the towel in my discouragement, He has taken ahold of my heart and my pen – leading me to wrestle with Him, even when I haven’t felt like it. And there His Voice has arisen for me. And that’s what I saw happening in my dream- for my loved ones too.

In every prideful, self-led, weary and discouraged prayer, where like the disciples I have gone on alone, without Jesus, God has purposely permitted Satan to stir up a STORM – as Satan has accused me of not being worthy of Jesus showing up “on time” for me and my loved ones, as Satan has pointed out my past as proof of God’s need to now punish me, by deserting me. But every time that very storm of accusations has only raised up a barrier to usher me into the all-sufficient grace of my Jesus, as Jesus has come walking toward me on that churning water saying: “It is I. Don’t be afraid!”. Yes, every storm – every thorn in my side – has been sent to stop me from going it alone, weary and discouraged, believing Jesus has left me to fend for myself.

For, Jesus keeps taking what the enemy sends to hurt me, to root me ever deeper in His love and His grace. He sets Himself before me through His Word and leads me to take a hold of His hand, to invite Him into the boat with me and to let Him complete my and my loved ones’ journey, through His all-sufficient doing for us at the Cross. It is He who is leading me and my loved ones successfully across to the other side, as He makes Himself known to us and through us to one another.

Now may we all see Jesus continue to meet us in our wrestling, whatever multi-colored trials surround us today and in the days to come – just as He has promised us He will. May we see Him prove Himself in us, as He reveals His glory.

John 6: 16 – 21 (HCSB) 16 When(R) evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum.(S) Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. 19 After they had rowed about three or four miles,[c] they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid.

20 But He said to them, “It is I.[d](T) Don’t be afraid!” 21 Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading.

Thank You, thank You, thank You, Jesus, for Your everlasting love for us ALL: